Language accurately reflecting the times earned the novel its first ban in the 1880s in Connecticut as “trash and suitable only for the slums” and continual challenges today as “racially insensitive,” “oppressive,” and “perpetuating racism”.
All Quiet on the Western Front
by Erich Maria Remarque
Call Number: PT2635.E68.A3
Publication Date: 1929
The novel describes the physical and mental stress German soldiers underwent in WWI, as well as how they were affected by the war when they returned to civilian life. The book was banned and burned by Hitler in the years leading up to WWII.
Variously banned and censored by numerous Arab nations and the United States government on the grounds of obscene material.
The Autobiography of Malcolm X
by Malcolm X; Alex Haley
Call Number: BP223.Z8.L57943 1992
Publication Date: 1965
Objectors have called this seminal work a “how-to-manual” for crime and decried because of “anti-white statements” present in the book. The book presents the life story of Malcolm Little, also known as Malcolm X, who was a human rights activist and who has been called one of the most influential Americans in recent history.
The Bluest Eye
by Toni Morrison
Call Number: PS3563.O8749.B55 2000
Publication Date: 1970
Banned or challenged in numerous schools due to scenes of rape and other complaints of explicit sexual or violent material.
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee
by Dee Brown
Call Number: E81.B75 2007
Publication Date: 1970
Subtitled “An Indian History of the American West,” this book tells the history of United States growth and expansion into the West from the point of view of Native Americans. This book was banned by a school district official in Wisconsin in 1974 because the book might be polemical and they wanted to avoid controversy at all costs. “If there’s a possibility that something might be controversial, then why not eliminate it,” the official stated.
Call Number: PQ2082.C3.E51 1973
Publication Date: 1759
Candide was condemned by the Roman Catholic Church for questioning the benevolence of a god who would wreak havoc on the world as well as for condemning the intolerance of religion itself. The book was banned from sale in France and Switzerland.
The Catcher in the Rye
by J. D. Salinger
Call Number: PS3537.A426.C37 2014
Publication Date: 1951
Between 1961 and 1982, The Catcher in the Rye was the most censored book in high schools and libraries in the United States. Frequently removed from classrooms and school libraries because it is “unacceptable,” “obscene,” “blasphemous,” “negative,” “foul,” “filthy,” “undermines morality”, and once for being a "communist plot".
Go Ask Alice
Call Number: Juv PZ7.G534 Go 1994
Publication Date: 1971
Written by an adult as an anti-drug work but promoted as the real life diary of an unknown teenage girl who, readers assume with the abrupt ending, died of a drug overdose as she was writing. It has all the tell-tale signs of a banned book: profanity, frequent drug use, sex, rape, homosexuality, and prostitution. Insanely popular among teens and preteens and widely banned by schools.
The Grapes of Wrath
by John Steinbeck
Call Number: PS3537.T3234.G8
Publication Date: 1939
Kern County, California has the great honor both of being the setting of Steinbeck’s novel and being the first place where it was banned (1939). Objections to profanity and sexual references continued from then into the 1990s. It is a work with international banning appeal: the book was barred in Ireland in the 50s and a group of booksellers in Turkey were taken to court for “spreading propaganda” in 1973.
The Gulag Archipelago
by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Call Number: HV9713.S6413
Publication Date: 1973
The history of the Soviet forced labor camps, composed of the author's own lived experience, accounts of others who survived, and painstaking research. Completed in 1968, but hidden, publication in the West became necessary in 1973 when the Leningrad woman hiding the manuscript revealed its hiding place after five days of KGB interrogation (on release, she hanged herself). Solzhenitsyn was arrested, charged with treason and deported. The book circulated in an underground format in the USSR until finally being partially published their in 1989.
Heart of Darkness
by Joseph Conrad
Call Number: PR6005.O4.H4
Publication Date: 1902
In the past, Heart of Darkness was banned in Poland, Germany and the USSR for reasons of political censorship. More recently it has been banned in parts of the USA for its use of racist language. Interestingly, in 1975 Chinua Achebe, whose own book is banned, branded Conrad ‘a bloody racist’ for this book.
by Allen Ginsberg
Call Number: PS3515.I74.H6
Publication Date: 1955
Following in the footsteps of Walt Whitman, Allen Ginsberg’s boundary-pushing poetic works, though now recognized as among the great works of American literature, were challenged in the 1950s because of descriptions of homosexual acts.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
by Maya Angelou
Call Number: PS3551.N464.Z466
Publication Date: 1969
An autobiography of the author's early years growing up black in the southern US. It has frequently been challenged for everything from being “anti-white and encouraging homosexuality” to gratuitous "violence, vulgarity, and sexuality".
In Cold Blood
by Truman Capote
Call Number: HV6533.K3.C3
Publication Date: 1966
A massively successful work that pioneered the true crime genre, it became the subject of controversy and was banned from schools in Savannah, GA after parents complained about sex, violence and profanity.